On March 16th, five Hershey Montessori School Alumni shared insights into our lives after Hershey Montessori School. Each of us are in different places in our lives and careers so it was interesting to see how we each have ways in common that our time at Hershey Montessori School impacts us in our lives, school, and careers today. Katie Vadakin and I participated remotely and Andrew Yarger, Connor DeWalt, and Leigh Emelko participated in person at the Concord Campus.
What is life like after Hershey Montessori School? On March 16, four alumni of Hershey Montessori School will be participating in a Panel Event at the Concord Campus at 6:30 PM. We will share some of their life experiences and perspectives after leaving the Montessori method of education, and answer your questions about our life choices such as college and/or careers and giving back to the community.
If you’re not able to attend in person, the event will be filmed and posted online.
The four panelists participating are Leigh Emelko, Katie Vadakin, Connor DeWalt, and myself, Makella Webster.
Leigh Emelko is currently a student at Case Western Reserve University and studying Anthropology. She is also in Sigma Sigma Sigma National Sorority serving as the Goals Coordinator for Honor Council. She is also involved in Global Health Design Collaboration to help improve medical waste handling in Uganda, has studied abroad in the UK, and is planning on studying in Amsterdam in May. She also volunteers at Urban Squash Cleveland teaching kids how to play squash and tutoring them as well.
Katie Vadakin is currently a student at Bently University in Boston, MA and interns at an application security company called Veracode, Inc. She is studying Finance with a double minor in Marketing and Spanish for Business, and will graduate in 2018.
I am a Marketing Coordinator for Provident Label Group, a division of Sony Music Entertainment located in Nashville, TN. My husband and I moved to Nashville about four years ago. I have worked at two nonprofit organizations and did marketing for a band from home and did a few national tours with them before being hired at Provident Label Group two years ago. I attended Ohio University for undergrad and graduate school and have my Bachelor’s Degree in Audio Production with a double minor in Music and Business, and my Master’s Degree in Media Management.
Connor DeWalt is currently a House Parent at the Huntsburg campus. He attended Hiram College and received his Bachelor’s Degree in History. While attending college, he was on the ultimate Frisbee team and was the captain of the men’s rugby team. At Hershey Montessori School, he teaches outdoor skills and is involved in other classes and activities with the students such teaching snowboarding, leading a book group, etc. He plans on pursuing his Montessori training to become a guide.
We hope that you will attend the event on March 16th!
Makella Webster Hershey Montessori School Alumni Coordinator
In honor of Montessori Education Week, honoring the sense of community that was fostered in us as Montessori students is important.
Many people go about their lives looking inward, asking questions like ‘How can I help me?’ ‘Is this going to benefit me?’ ‘What can I get out of doing this?’ ‘How can that person help me get ahead?’ While Montessori promotes independence, decision making, and helping the child to think for themselves, there is also an external focus to the work done, the lessons taught, and community that is fostered. In many, if not all, of the lessons that we learned as students, there was a thread that runs through them which is the betterment of the world and mankind – sometimes through the connection with nature and other living things, sometimes through projects that help the community run smoothly, sometimes through knowledge about historical issues and issues facing society today, sometimes it’s through the Practical Life work. Almost every lesson we were taught had a connection to the greater world – what we learned was to either directly better the world and those around us, or to equip and inspire us to make the world around us better.
(All photos are of Hershey Montessori School students or former students)
Dr. Montessori called children ‘a hope and a promise for mankind…’, said that “An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live…” and that, “The child is capable of developing and giving us tangible proof of the possibility of a better humanity.”
Dr. Montessori said these things because she believed that her curriculum and the way that she designed an educational system are meant to educate children as a whole, not just academically. By educating the whole child and interweaving peace and community throughout the pedagogy, these statements she made are attainable because the alumni and former students will be living out the principals of peace and community knowingly and unknowingly.
Looking at the basic needs of an individual, the desire for community (and thus peace within that community) is one of the essentials. According to Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs,’ once the basics are met (food, clothing, shelter, safety), the next level of need is belonging, followed by esteem, self-actualization, and self-transcendence, which is helping others. Dr. Montessori designed a curriculum and a system that educates, develops, and encourages these innate needs which is a big reason why it works. She knew what mankind needed – belongingness, esteem, self-actualization, and self-transcendence – and developed an environment where those needs are met, fostered, cared for, and grown. The environment that Dr. Montessori envisioned was created by Hershey Montessori School 39 years ago with over 1,000 students having had the chance to experience it. In honor of Montessori Education Week, that is worth celebrating!
As students, we were taught that we have something to contribute, that we were capable of much, and that we could make a difference. We were recognized as unique individuals and given freedom within limits to foster our individuality within the greater community. Being encouraged in this way inspires us to better the world around us and to contribute.
Katie Vadakin, a Hershey Montessori School Alumni Ambassador who attended Hershey from 1998 to 2010 said, “…it has become extremely clear to me all that Montessori has provided me with. From people skills, to academics, to leadership abilities, Hershey has given me a perfect base for success.”
To sum it up, promoting community and peace alongside providing an education for the whole child results in students being prepared to make an impact.
Makella Webster, Hershey Montessori School Alumni Coordinator
It’s Montessori Education Week celebrating the 110-year anniversary of Montessori Education! One of the amazing things about Montessori education is that the pedagogy can be replicated all over the world, throughout time and is still successful at educating the whole child.
The screenshot from this video of a Montessori classroom in Bhutan below looks so similar to the classrooms at Hershey Montessori School (the second image). Dr. Montessori, an Italian herself, developed principles for education that are universal to all children.
In a research article about the evaluation of Thai Montessori schools, the results showed that “the overall intellectual performance and language skills of Montessori children were significantly superior” to the other children tested. More proof of the power of Montessori across the world!
(Photo: classroom in Bhutan)
(Photo: classroom at Hershey Montessori School)
In looking at Montessori education throughout time, even though some things change with advancements in technology, research, etc., the principles taught by Dr. Montessori still hold true today. Below is a historical photo of a child working on the Cylinder Block material – a material that is taught at Hershey Montessori School today.
(Photo from Gutenberg.org)
The 110th anniversary of Montessori education is worthy of celebration – without Montessori education, countless children would not have been prepared to better the world around them. Without it, the more than 1,000 alumni of Hershey Montessori School would not have been impacted the way we have been, and our lives would not be as enriched as they are now.
Makella Webster, Hershey Montessori School Alumni Coordinator
This week, (February 26 through March 3), is Montessori Education Week – celebrating the 110-year anniversary of Montessori Education!
Hershey Montessori School started almost forty years ago, in 1978 as a rental space with eight students. Today, there are 271 students and over 1,000 alumni who are living and working all over the world. (You can take a look at the history of Hershey Montessori School here).
Two of the greatest gifts that the alumni have been given are both the community of Hershey Montessori School, and the importance of community that was fostered in us at an early age.
The “Community Song” was sung at the annual Thanksgiving Feasts along with the entire school, allowing us as students to feel as though we were a part of something bigger than ourselves. “Look around and you will see community, a family… we are brothers, we are one.” We would work together on projects that benefited the community like preparing meals, taking care of the animals in the classrooms, and helping each other when needed. There was a post on the alumni Facebook group about the log cabin at Huntsburg Campus that was built by staff and students. It was wonderful to see comments from alumni who have fond memories of accomplishing that together. We were taught formal conflict resolution in elementary with elements of it at earlier ages to help foster peace and the ability to work well with each other.
(Photo: Hershey Montessori students circa 1992)
Matt Bernardina who attended Hershey from 1991 to 1994 said, “The Montessori system, as well as my teachers and fellow classmates, helped me grow into who I am today…” He mentions the community around him being impactful on his education and growth. Dr. Montessori recognized the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child,” as a truth that she implemented into the educational system she developed.
(Photo: Hershey Montessori adolescent students circa 2002)
It’s a priority for Montessori schools to promote peace in the classroom: establishing and encouraging community is a big part of that. Respecting each other’s differences, recognizing kinship with those around us, and working on projects together were all ways Hershey Montessori School instilled peace throughout our time there. This is something that we carry with us in all future communities we join. Dr. Montessori said, “Establishing peace is the work of education.”
“We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.” – Dr. Montessori
Makella Webster, Hershey Montessori School Alumni Coordinator
Thank you for joining us for Hershey Montessori School’s Alumni Week. The alumni and myself will continue to post on this blog so please keep following along!
The alumni would like to express that Hershey Montessori School is an incredible place, one that helped guide our development to prepare us to go into the world ready to contribute and use our strengths and interests to make it a better place. It fostered a curiosity in us to continue to learn and better ourselves throughout our lives as well. We are grateful for the incredible guides, staff, and leadership, to Debbie Guren and family, and to our families as well for allowing us the opportunity to have experienced Hershey Montessori School. We are excited to see it grow and continue to impact lives.
Thank you for your continued support of Hershey Montessori School!
Imagine a beautiful place filled with activities that are designed around your needs, calling to your curiosity and imagination. Picture a community where children are surrounded by people who understand, encourage and challenge their strengths. Envision a child learning each day, immersed in a culture of respect and a course of study based upon personal interest and engagement.
Serving children from birth through age 18, Hershey offers challenging, highly individualized programs that focus on the uniqueness of each child.
Hershey offers an exceptional experience on two campuses, including the truly unique, world class farm school.